Using the concept of mindful meditation, mindfulness eating relates to the notion of recognising sensations, feelings, and thoughts whilst you are eating. Eating is an act that we often pay no attention to, meaning that we remove the notion of intentionally eating and move towards the act of automatically eating without thought.
Are there benefits to mindful eating?
There are positive outcomes towards adapting a mindful eating routine. Research suggests that instead of focusing on the meal, we are more inclined to shift our attention to distraction, such as the television or our phones. By removing these distractions,we allow ourselves to truly experience the pleasure of eating.
It is suggested that mindful eating affects the speed in which we eat. By being present in the moment with your food, you can refocus your attention and slow down, making your experience eating more enjoyable by acknowledging the taste, smell and texture of the food.
It has also been reported that mindful eating helps you to establish the difference between emotional and physical hunger. Therefore, it helps conditions such as binge eating, and reduces the act of mindlessly eating. This can be in the form of emotional or external eating. Consequently, mindful eating can change your relationship with food, also promoting healthy weight loss. Being aware of the emotions connected to your eating habits are more likely to encourage you to change your way of thinking. This means that you can change your eating behaviours.
Are there negative consequences to mindful eating?
Overall, the responses to mindfulness eating are positive. However, critics have suggested that using mindful eating as a treatment for those with life-threatening eating disorders can be counterproductive. Some people also argue that thinking too much about food can make the notion of eating unappealing.
How can you practice mindful eating?
There are various methods to which you can engage with the act of mindful eating, but some of the most popular methods include:
- Eating slowly so that you’re not rushing your meals. This helps your body to recognise when you are full
- Reduce the amount of distractions. Try eating your dinner in a room without the television on and without your phone
- Acknowledge the sensations you are experiencing in connection with your food
- Don't force yourself to finish the meal if you are full. Listen to your body when it is telling you to stop eating
- Recognise when you're hungry. Establish the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger
- Choose what to eat. Think about the choices you are making and notice what thoughts and feelings arise from the decisions you are making. Be careful not to cast judgement upon these decisions
It can be useful to start this process by using mindful eating for one of your meals or a snack. Then develop this further into your other meals until you feel satisfied with your mindful eating habits.
Creating a mindful kitchen can be a great way to establish mindful eating habits as part of a daily routine. Mindless eating can come from the habit of looking for food in the kitchen even if you are not hungry. When you establish a space for eating, such as the kitchen, it can be useful to organise it in such a way that promotes the habit of healthy eating.
How to fit mindful eating into your daily life
It is unrealistic to encourage you to be mindful with every meal you eat, especially when you are first introducing this new adaptation into your life-style. However, there are small changes that you can incorporate into your busy schedule if you are finding it difficult.
- Do not multi-task whilst you eat. Focus all your attention onto the food
- Try not to mindless eat the fill an emotional void such as boredom, and instead eat when you experience physical hunger
- Reduce the amount of junk/comfort food you consume and substitute them for a healthier meal or snack
- Try not to rush your food and allow yourself to savour each bite
- Do not push yourself past comfort. Listen to your body and only eat until you are full
- Experiment with new foods, try to expand the variety of foods you intake
Mindfulness eating is a productive way to encourage a healthier relationship with food where you are able to enjoy your meal. Being present in the moment allows you to develop healthier eating behaviour by encouraging you to acknowledge the thoughts and feelings you have in connection with food.